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Old 09-28-2017, 01:58 PM   #1
Coco61
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Default Cushings and Treatment

I am posting here to reach a wider audience of HC members who may wish to know about my experience of Cushings.
I will be adding 2 photos to show the condition Mocho was in when I took him to the vet and the change about 6 weeks later.
In September 2016, fur loss on Mocho's lower back led me to take him to the vet. This was not fur loss around the scent glands. Mocho was then 18 months old. The vet recommended a blood test in case the fur loss was the start of Cushings. No Syrian owner wants to hear those words. The common symptoms are distressing. The blood test carries some risk to a hamster as a whiff of gas must be given. The blood was taken from his neck. He was awake again and fine after about 10 minutes in total.

Cushings can occur in any mammal. It is when the adrenal gland over produces the stress hormone cortisol. It is regularly treated in larger mammals like dogs.
The blood test is to test for the level of cortisol in the blood. Normal for a hamster is 25. Mocho's level was 47. The vet had seen over 100. His view was that Mocho was highly likely to have Cushings and he has devised a treatment for it. He explained that hamsters usually tolerate the medicine well. He wanted to review Mocho after about a month.

The treatment was a diluted version of the dog medicine. This is VETORYL. A capsule was broken open and the powder emptied into a small medicine bottle. It was then diluted with 9mls of water. A drop or 0.03ml was given daily. Anything left after a month was discarded and a new bottle made up. Thus, after the initial expense of the blood test, the ongoing treatment was very cheap. Once the medicine was established in the bloodstream, the vet reassured me that it would not matter if a dose was missed. But that never happened.

The next problem was how to get Mocho to take the meds. This was going to be a daily drop for the rest of his life. That turned out to be for a year. I was aware that giving antibiotics to a hamster is not easy but at least that stops. I did not want Mocho to hide away from me hating what was to come. I owe the success of this to his breeder and Vectis when I met them at a hamster show only the day after I collected the first medicine. They advised me to mix the drop with a variety of hamster friendly baby food as well as porridge and I also used wheatgerm as occasional variety. Also kitten food was suggested but I found Mocho only liked the turkey variety. As he was older, not too much protein was advisable in his diet so I used the jelly surrounded the bits of turkey but only a tiny amount of meat.

I started with a small amount of the day's treat on a teaspoon with the meds mixed in. This way I knew he was eating it and the treat was a novelty to him. I did it at the start of evening feeding time when he was hungry. He would even come when called from his house even if only his nose came out! After thefirst review and we were settling in for the long haul, winter was coming with colder evenings. Now, I decided to let Mocho feed himself the meds. I has a small bowl for treats and I left the medicated treat in this near his house every night. I tried to put it there when I knew he was awake and out and about but I also left it there if he was a no show. If it was porridge it went quickly and all at once. But I could not risk him becoming bored with it so kept up a rotation of about 6-8 different babyfoods and others. Sometime it took 2 or 3 visits over the night to empty the bowl but it did not matter as it was topping up that mattered.

After the first review the vet was pleased. His coat had regrown although the winter coat was growing in again. Spring would tell. By then he was 2 and keeping the symptoms at bay. The vet told me that if things got worse we could discuss increasing the dose. There was no need for that as it turned out. So no baldness, no black patches on the skin, no fragile skin that could be cut so easily, no kidney or liver problems or limb mobility. Mocho lived to be 2 and half and went to the bridge a few days ago.

This treatment will not work the vet explained, if the cause of the adrenal gland malfunctioning is a tumour pressing on the pituitary gland. This sends messages to the adrenal gland and the wrong one results in the overproduction of cortisol.

My vet practice is CJ Hall and contact details are on their website. They are happy to take referrals or give advice so I encourage those whose hamster may have Cushings to get their vet to phone/email CJHall about possible treatment.

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Last edited by Coco61; 09-28-2017 at 02:08 PM. Reason: To embed photos
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Old 09-28-2017, 02:30 PM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

That is a wonderful resource Coco. I will help many hammy owners if Cushings is diagnosed. It must have been tough at this time, when Mocho has recently gone to the rainbow bridge. You gave him amazing care and kept him healthy and comfortable for his lifespan. That is a great thing.

My own vet informed me they couldn't do a blood test. So would suggest if anyone else's vet says that, they find another more specialised vet who can do the blood test - for those not in the London area.
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Thanks for sharing this Coco, I'm sure you're experience will give hope to anyone who's ham is going through this & the info on treatment will be very helpful for owners & vets alike.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

You gave Sir Mocho such an amazing and wonderful, long and fulfilling life with you. Thanks for sharing all of this very helpful information with us, Coco! I'm sure this will prove extremely helpful in giving hope and a treatment plan for owners of hammies diagnosed with Cushings and vets alike. You truly are an amazing person and are so appreciated by us on HC. Hugs to you!
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Old 09-30-2017, 09:14 PM   #5
Thin Lizzy
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Coco, Thank you for sharing this information, This gives hope to others that Cushings can be treated with medication. Also, an even bigger Thank You for sharing yours & Sir Mocho's progress, this was down to you keeping a routine with your beloved boy, ensuring his medication was mixed in with a variety of tasty foods. We went on a journey with the both of you, the ups and downs, the joy and tears.
You already shared a bond before the diagnosis of Cushings, but that got stronger along with your care and unconditional love.
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Old 10-01-2017, 04:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Coco,
What a wonderful article to read and hopefully will be a splendid resource for other hammy owners.
Your bond with Sir Mocho undoubtedly strong pre diagnosis was even stronger afterwards with his daily meds, I know My Bond with Pip was stronger after her meds twice daily..
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Old 10-01-2017, 03:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Thank you for sharing this information with us. It’s a wonderful resource to have available especially for people who have hamster diagnosed with cushings.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

I see this is an older thread, but if you are still on here, were there any other symptoms other than hair loss when you took him to the vet originally? I currently have a hamster experiencing hair loss and have had one vet say "ovarian cysts" and another say"over grooming" and neither was able to do anything to really treat her.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:21 PM   #9
Coco61
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Hi Charbeaner, still here! Maestro is my current boy.
No, there were no other symptoms. Mocho had a thread on here and I posted the photo showing the hair loss as I was concerned about its position. The advice was to go to the vet. I am fortunate that I have an exotics vet nearby and they are excellent with hamsters.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cushings and Treatment

Charbeaner - was either of the vets and exotic vet? If not google for one in your region. Exotic vets know much more about hamsters. Also how old is your hamster as there can be many reasons for fur loss. If you start a thread on this issue I am sure you will get some responses and thoughts on what the issue may be or looks like, but ultimately an exotic vet may be the best for a diagnosis and suggested treatment.
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